Employee Assistance Programme

Essex County Council - Provider Hub
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Market Context

This service is designed to support adults with disabilities, physical or sensory impairments, and older people through a range of purposeful activities outside their own home. As well as providing respite for unpaid carers, day opportunity provision helps people to achieve a number of different outcomes. Older people are supported to remain well and living in the community for as long as possible, and adults with disabilities are supported to gain confidence, independence, life skills and work towards employment.

Currently services are commissioned under a number of spot contracts.

Market Rating

Please note that the following ratings are as a result of the work being undertaken at the moment to redesign Day Opportunities and work towards a replacement for the previous Day Opportunities Framework. Extensive communication and engagement with providers has taken place over the last 12 months.

Market Quality Market Supply ECC Demand
Moderate Good Stable
ECC Ambition Market Workforce Market Maturity
Manage Supply Moderate Evolving

ECC rating of the market, assessed on 31st March 2024.

Essex County Council currently operates a range of spot contracts that are based upon the previous Framework contract. This was designed to support adults aged 18 and over to access a range of purposeful activities outside their own home which enable individuals to increase their skills, gain independence, and develop confidence in their own community. This framework also incorporates the provision of respite for unpaid carers.

The current contracts support the following cohorts:

  • Adults with a Disability (AWD): support for individuals with learning disabilities including autistic spectrum disorders and/or physical and sensory impairments.
  • Older People (OP): support to enable adults to play an active and valued role in their community and retain their skills, knowledge and independence for as long as possible, whilst reducing their dependency upon traditional day services.
  • Unpaid Carers: provision of respite from their informal caring role.
  • Young people aged 18-25.

In addition, the Council also operates an onboarding scheme which is designed to secure support for vulnerable adults whose needs cannot be met by an existing provider to mitigate the risk of unmet needs.

The previous framework expired in 2022 and the Council is currently co-producing the future direction of travel for this service in conjunction with existing and prospective providers, individuals with lived experience and their representatives/carers.

The scope of the new day opportunities offer will be informed by the strategic commissioning aims as articulated in the Meaningful Lives Matters programme (MLM).

One of the core MLM projects involved the co-design of a new strategic partnership agreement with Essex Cares Limited (ECL). This service was designed to support adults with a disability and/or autism achieve their ambition to explore meaningful employment and provide adults with more choice and control over their support options. This service commenced on 1st April 2020 and has successfully supported over 370 adults to secure paid employment despite the constraints of the COVID pandemic. The success of this offer has informed the Council’s commissioning intentions for the service redesign of day opportunities alongside considering how to incorporate the positive lessons learned from implementing alternative support offers during the emergency phases of the COVID pandemic.

All day opportunities providers are required to adhere to the latest national guidance on the safe, effective provision of support as detailed on the SCIE website which can be accessed via: Delivering safe, face-to-face adult day care (scie.org.uk)

We have recently been supporting providers to develop their service offer to acknowledge their role in supporting individuals along their specific pathway. For adults with disabilities this pathway starts with developing confidence and gaining access to the community, and moves to developing life skills and working towards employment outcomes where possible. For older people this pathway is about keeping people well and engaged with the community for as long as possible, delaying the need for further support arrangements and helping people to stay living at home successfully for as long as possible.

The following spend data is correct as at 31st March 2024 which may be subject to fluctuations over time in line with variations in demand and external factors.

In relation to the stated placement data, please note that this represents the latest recorded committed placement numbers for day opportunities excluding legacy placements relating to the ECL LIVE service. The stated placement data does not correspond to the number of adults who access day opportunities support as some individuals hold multiple day opportunities placements.

In relation to the stated scope of provision, the Council’s records demonstrate that 102 providers deliver day opportunities placements to vulnerable people in Essex. Some providers operate multiple separate sites whilst others operate different groups or programmes from a single building or base of operations, making it difficult to define how many separate schemes there are, but a basic count suggests over 120 different schemes.

Please note that these figures exclude out of county provision and direct payments/self-funded provision. A placement is an individual making use of a day opportunity, please note that it is not uncommon for people to attend for more than one session so the figures below simply represent the number of separate individuals.

Essex ASC Market (ECC Funded)  
Total Spend (including ECL LIVE service) £22 Million
No. Providers 102
No. Placements (excluding ECL LIVE service) 957
ECL Day Opportunities Placements 629
Total Day Opportunities Placements 1,586

The information shown in the table(s) above is correct as of 31st March 2024.

The Council is currently undertaking extensive engagement, both internally and externally to determine the optimal delivery model in preparation for the future Day Opportunities contract.

Essex County Council’s vision is for every adult to be able to live as independently as possible and to enjoy a good and meaningful life. This includes enablement approaches including the Meaningful Lives Matter approach which is based on a principle that many of the long-term solutions to peoples care and support rest within themselves and their families, social networks and surrounding communities.

It is recognised that Day Opportunities can play an important role and can support adults to live a life which is meaningful to them by developing a person’s strengths, skills, knowledge and aspirations. This also includes supporting adults to achieve outcomes that are specific to them, such as maintaining their health and wellbeing, connection to their community, aspects of recovery, relationships, improved skills and to support them to progress towards paid employment.

Our vision is for adults to be engaged within their communities, and to have opportunities to gain skills, achieve personal goals and to improve their own wellbeing and to choose how they are supported to spend their days.

Our vision means that in the future there will be a greater range of opportunities for people, including opportunities for paid employment, volunteering, Day Opportunities, clubs, groups, and community-based support such as community groups and Befriending. The Council intends to reflect this vision within our future commissioning intentions.

Day Opportunities providers are now fully open but many are still processing the impact of COVID-19. The Pandemic has had a lasting impact on some people’s willingness to participate in community based activities, and has also reset many providers’ relationships with the community around them which is taking some time to rebuild.

Recent market engagement has given providers the opportunity to discuss the following areas of concern:

  • Access to suitable transport
  • The need for adults with disabilities to progress, balanced against the impact that progression has on provider delivery models
  • The need for providers to adjust their delivery models in line with the council’s changing expectations of Day Opportunities.

These issues have been considered as part of the planning process for the new Day Opportunities contract.

The Council is currently conducting significant internal and external engagement to determine the optimal delivery model to support vulnerable people.

The principle driver for this revised offer is informed by the insight from the MLM programme which identified a need to revise the conventional support offers for people with learning disabilities and/or autism in line with co-production feedback regarding the restrictive nature of the current support offers. One of the key findings from the research phase of the MLM project revealed that people with a learning disability and/or autism in Essex wanted better opportunities and choices – they sought rewarding, paid opportunities, to visit their local shops and amenities, to receive good quality training and to build strong friendship networks in their communities. This feedback informs the Council’s current commissioning intentions for the redesign of day opportunities services.

For Older People Day Opportunities there is a planned programme of needs assessment to confirm what types of provision are required and the volume of each type. This will contribute to the ongoing service design process.

The Council is in the middle of further market engagement as part of the ongoing service redesign for day opportunities.

Last updated: 31/03/2024